2 months into school; still no textbooks
This is the story of every government school in India. But last year, Samarth team changed this story by distributing free textbooks to all schools in the state of Himachal Pradesh, way before the commencement of the academic session. The initiative saw a great success- more than 16 lakh books were distributed to ~5300 winter closing schools in the state right at the beginning of the academic session commencing in February 2016. Additionally, more than 40 lakh books were distributed to summer closing schools before the start of the new academic session in April. With extreme weather conditions, regions cut off during winters, rough terrain and with two separate academic sessions, Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the country to achieve this feat.
Behind the scenes
So, how did the Samarth team achieve such a massive logistical task of distributing 50 lakh textbooks to almost 6 lakh eligible students across 15,000 schools?
First and foremost, they ensured an earlier delivery of textbooks at Himachal’s 24 Book Distribution Centers across the state by preponing release of the tender for textbook printing and communicating strict deadlines to printers.
Technology also played a key role as a facilitator for them to achieve its aim of on-time textbook distribution. Be it real-time stock reports for HPBOSE to efficiently manage its depots, online demand collection and electronic-indents issued by the Directorate through its website, or the online monitoring dashboard or the real-time updates on the Whatsapp group, the Samarth team smartly used technology as a facilitator to ensure on-time delivery of textbooks.
A special telephone helpline was created at the state level on which 500+ block officials could call to get information or solve issues related to textbook distribution in their block.
This way it was proved that by using technological solutions, the government can bring speed, efficiency, transparency and real-time visibility into the system.